Review: It’s (Not That) Complicated: How to Relate to Guys in a Healthy, Sane, and Biblical Way
It’s (Not That) Complicated: How to Relate to Guys in a Healthy, Sane, and Biblical Way by Anna Sofia Botkin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Botkin daughters, unmarried and in their mid-20s, write to young ladies on how to relate to guys. I haven’t read their prior work, like Return of the Daughters and So Much More, judging the concept touted in the marketing material to be extra-Biblical. But I gave “It’s Not that Complicated” a try, and was pleasantly surprised.
Girls tend to have unrealistic expectations about boys. They think that every boy will converse like a pro. They set up an idealized gold standard. Just like guys expect girls to look like supermodels (more physical and visually oriented), girls expect guys to be emotive, very sensitive to feelings, highly verbal, etc. I liked their encouragement to girls to love their brothers in Christ, instead of maintaining impossibly high standards and being brutal in their thoughts with every boy who doesn’t meet those standards. Instead, take some modest initiative in conversation with boys. This is okay. Girls can be so deathly afraid of flirting or being forward that they are in a cocoon.
Guarding your own purity isn’t the main thing. Loving others is. Without giving away the store into immodest behavior, the Botkins deal realistically with how positively to relate to guys. Relationships with guys are expected, just not central; dangerous, but not to be denied. Don’t get romantically attached. This is said in a variety of helpful ways: “It is fully possible to have an interest in a young man’s life and future without feeling like you’re “buying personal shares in it.” A guy and girl “can have pure, honest affection and esteem for each other… without being inordinately affected by the ‘possibility’ possibility.” Flirting with and shunning boys both stem from “thinking of them [boys] only as romantic objects or marriage material.”
There were a couple sidepoints I quibble with. They quote Rushdoony on imagination being the essence of sin (pg 38). This ignores and denies Song of Solomon’s essential role of the poetic and the imaginative in romance. If the Botkins’ point is to keep your imagination from running wild about a potential relationship, though, the point is well put.
A bigger disagreement: they say not to communicate distance in interacting with guys, or you can crush them. This gives guys more credit than they need. Guys need to learn to take some knocks, including from girls, especially if they are flirting with them. Sometimes guys need to be repulsed by a cold shoulder when they cross the line. Then again, I’ve seen some harsh snubbing of someone deemed flirtatious that approached condemnation. Responding to one sin (flirting) with another (dismissive judgment) is no way to go. I’m a strong believer that young ladies should cultivate the art of communicating distance without judging or repelling an overly forward young man. When the guy is dense it’s virtually impossible to pull off, and the fault is all with the guy, but the girl should at least know ahead of time what she’s trying to accomplish and how, in that situation.
All in all a very helpful book for young people that avoids the two ditches of worldly compromise and over-scrupulous distance from the opposite sex.
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